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Historic Murray River paddle steamer Avoca sinks

Date

Kaitlyn Opie

Mildura's historic showboat Avoca has sunk overnight.

The vessel has been in Mildura since 1927 and, until last night, was the second-oldest paddle steamer still operating on the Murray River - only Echuca’s PS Adelaide, built in 1866, is older.

In January the Avoca's then owner, chef Stefano de Pieri, received a call that he had been dreading.

An electrical fault had cut power to the four electric pumps that were running, night and day, to keep the Avoca afloat.

Fortunately, Mr de Pieri had had the foresight to install some power sockets on the riverbank at her berth and power was soon restored.

At the time, Mr de Pieri said over the decades the Avoca had been used as a restaurant, for entertainment and cruises.

"It's part of Mildura," he said.

"I have two options: I can fix it, or let it sink. Because of its place in the history of Mildura and the Murray River, the second option is unthinkable."

But struggling under the burden of full ownership of the Avoca meant Mr de Pieri decided to sell the historic vessel in the hopes that it would be repaired and stay in Mildura.

On April 11, his hopes were realised, when the vessel sold at auction for $55,000.

Mildura restaurateur Simon Harrington was the successful lone bidder and he too was happy to see the Avoca stay in Mildura.

"We didn't want to see it go and we're happy to see it stay," Mr Harrington said.

"There was one group who were interested and wanted to take it away from Mildura.

"The Avoca is very dear to our hearts and we've got some ideas and I'll be happy to talk about our concepts in the near future," he said.

But now, the unthinkable has happened.

See Sunraysia Daily for more.

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